Judge David Johnson ain't frontin'. Yo.
Two extremely confused white guys.
Based on a short film of the same name, The Bros. tells the story of two sons of suburbia and their love affair with hardcore gangsta rap.
Facts of the Case
Peter Streeter (Joachim Wiese) and Lance LaChance (John Tindall) are destined for greatness. Or so they think. Pete, a former star high school star athlete, washes out from the football team and throws his fortune in with his loser friend Lanny. As their friendship grows, the two discover the magic of rap, and dedicate themselves to finding success and street credibility in the hip hop industry.
And so their transformation begins, from soft-spoken, underachievers to Cadillac-cruising, Ebonics-spewing, chronic-smoking "G's." Unfortunately, to finance their debut album, the duo will have to raise $10,000 to get some much-needed studio time. Unwilling to slave away in a burger joint, Pete and Lanny hatch a plan that will earn them money, as well as respect on the street. They are, however, oblivious to reality and everyone laughs at them.
The budget is tiny.
The biggest name actor is Joey Fatone.
And it's great.
The Bros. is one of those finds that makes surfing the vast DVD market rewarding. Writer and director Jonathan Figg has put together a comedy that hits all the right notes, even with two young, unknown actors doing their best Coolio impressions the whole way through. This film could easily have been extremely annoying, but the Pete and Lanny characters, on which the entire film bets its success, are endearing, sympathetic and so idiotic, even their most egregious offenses in the film can be labeled "comic mischief."
For example, as they launch a crime spree to secure the 10-large they need for their record, they rob a convenience store at gunpoint and lay out the hapless clerk (Fatone) with a baseball bat. On paper that sounds pretty horrible, but in action "the bros." stumble their way through the whole affair—obviously uncomfortable in their faux-criminal ways—then get themselves robbed by a crackhead moments later. Gold! Later, harassing an obese woman leads to a shot of pepper spray to the face. And so on.
This works because Pete and Lanny takes themselves seriously. In their feeble minds, they are actual gangsters, and the two never deviate from the hardcore street thug that they believe lurks within. There isn't a moment in the entire movie where I found myself laughing with these characters; it was all directed at them. Basically, the whole world is in on the joke besides them and that's what makes The Bros. such an effective comedy. Comical high jinks ensue, sure, but Figg has the good sense and the restraint from letting the gags overwhelm the characters and turning the film into a fluffy bit of self-mockery.
For newcomers, Wiese and Tindall do very well in roles that could have easily gone south. We get a glimpse of the two before they assumed their gangsta personalities and it's a great juxtaposition with the cocky, clueless wannabe rappers that they become. If any of the pair evokes the least sympathy it's Tindall's Lanny, a total jackass whose thuggish demeanor is tempered by his shrinking in the face of any type of confrontation. To Tindall's credit, Lanny still keeps his pouty, obstinate face on even after a beat-down at the hands of some neo-Nazis; neither brother ever breaks their "character," and that pays off for big laughs down the stretch. As Pete, Wiese is a tad more sympathetic, but just as clueless. He's afflicted with a slight conscience, yet is easily swayed by his friend's badgering, and his impulse goon tendencies get him slapped around a number of times. The only other major character is Lanny's dad—and narrator—played well by former Orlando Magic sharpshooter (and renowned Knick torturer) Dennis Scott.
This movie just plain works. It's funny, but never grating. The sight gags are clever and the writing is sharp (even thought the script is comprised mainly of F-bombs). The charismatic leads, while new to the game, deliver hilarious and semi-charming performances, even though the characters they play are remarkably dull-witted and obnoxious. Recommended.
Lionsgate delivers a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and a suitable 2.0 stereo audio mix. The film was obviously concocted on a slight budget, and the low-quality film stock is evidence of this. Sure the movie looks like it was made in the mid-80s, but the iffy quality doesn't detract from the experience, and, in fact, bolsters the homegrown, documentary-like tone Figg was after. Stills, trailers and a "music gallery" are it for extras, which is sad.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
My only real gripe about the film was the ending. I can't think of a better one, but the predictable denouement was disappointing, considering the cleverness of everything that preceded it.
Two suburban white guys who want to be rappers and look like fools trying. It sounds like a horrible Wayans film, but The Bros. is a witty, often hilarious comic gem.
Not guilty. Sucka.
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